Under-18s: Norwich City 0-4 Chelsea

Chelsea’s Under-18s made it three wins out of three to begin the new season as they came away with a 4-0 win away to Norwich City on Saturday morning.

George McEachran’s first-half strike gave the Blues an advantage they would never relinquish, and goals from Charlie Brown, Conor Gallagher and Martell Taylor-Crossdale after half time ensured a deservedly handsome final scoreline.

Jody Morris was still without several players through injury or whilst awaiting international clearance and so made just the one change from the team that beat Reading last time out. Jonathan Russell replaced Faustino Anjorin and sat at the base of a midfield diamond that was flanked by Gallagher and Juan Castillo and topped by McEachran.

The Blues made a confident start and should have been in front early on, when Taylor-Crossdale drew the first of a number of saves from Norwich goalkeeper Fergal Hale-Brown, but they didn’t have long to wait before breaking the deadlock.

McEachran obliged after a quarter of an hour, showing good strength to shrug off a defender, before darting away from two more and steering a fine finish low into the far corner for his second goal of the campaign.

They should have been out of sight before half an hour had been played too. Brown and Taylor-Crossdale were denied in quick succession by Hale-Brown from close range, whilst the latter really should have done better with a header from no more than eight yards out that lacked both direction and conviction.

Norwich were only able to muster a threat late on the half, firstly through Bilal Kamal’s powerfully-struck shot into the side netting, and then from a Connor Parsons cross that required Marc Guehi’s timely intervention with Adam Idah waiting to pounce in the middle.

Chelsea simply needed to be sharper and more decisive in the final third if they were to put distance between themselves and their hosts, and they duly did so with two goals within fifteen minutes of second half football, shortly after Taylor-Crossdale had hit the foot of the post with a free kick.

The first came through a lovely flowing move that began with the patience of Jack Wakely at the back; the defender calmly assessed his options and, rather than playing a backpass to Jamie Cumming, looked forward and picked out McEachran. He in turn slipped Castillo in down the left, and the Dutchman’s cross was gleefully finished at the far post by the former Ipswich forward Brown.

Gallagher made it 3-0 four minutes later with an individual effort that saw him nimbly dance his way into a shooting position before flicking a deft right-footed shot high into the roof of the net. At that point it was game over, and it left Norwich to rue Anis Mehmeti’s glaring miss moments before Brown struck; rather than being back in the contest at 1-1, they now faced a near-impossible task to overhaul a three-goal deficit.

Substitute Tushaun Walters almost scored with his first touch, after receiving a clever reverse ball from Taylor-Crossdale, but Hale-Brown spread himself well to make the save, but the one-way traffic continued right to the end when Marcel Lavinier was hauled back in the area by debutant Jay Foulston. Taylor-Crossdale scored from the spot to get off the mark for the new season and ensure that the young Blues go into the international break with three wins, and three clean sheets, from three matches played.

Norwich City: Hale-Brown, Parsons, O’Donnell (Hutchinson), Ekumah (c), Foulston, Lomas, Spyrou (Fleming), Kamal, Idah, Barnes, Thorvaldsson (Mehmeti)
Subs not Used: Dickerson, Oddy

Booked: Foulston

Chelsea: Cumming, Lavinier, Guehi, Wakely, Panzo, Russell (Mola), Castillo, Gallagher (c), C.Brown (Walters), McEachran (Lamptey), Taylor-Crossdale
Subs not Used: Akinjogbin, Masampu

Goals: McEachran, C.Brown, Gallagher, Taylor-Crossdale
Booked: Taylor-Crossdale